Advent 2 – December 5, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Today we hear of a messenger who prepares us for God’s coming. In Malachi 3. 1-4 God sends a messenger to prepare us for God to come among us. But it will not all be easy. God is coming to purify us.

Luke 1. 68-79
is Zechariah’s song at the birth of John the Baptist, rejoicing that God has fulfilled the Covenant to save us from all that we fear and all that diminishes life, and establish a new realm of peace. The second part of the song is addressed to John—and us: “Prepare a way for God by showing people forgiveness. The dawn of God’s grace is coming, to save those who live in the shadow of death, and to guide us in the way of peace.”

In Philippians 1.3-11 Paul prays that God will continue a process that God has already begun in us: that our love will increasingly overflow so that we may be pure on the day of the Chosen One’s coming.

Luke 3.1-6 says John the Baptist is like Isaiah’s “voice crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of God!’” The message in Isaiah was a word of hope to people who were in exile: a broad, smooth road through the wilderness, on which God would come to bring them home!

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [from Malachi 3.1-4]
Reading: “See, I will send my messenger,
who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the One you are seeking will come to the temple;
the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”
says God Almighty.
But who can endure the day of that coming?
Who can stand when the Messenger appears?
For God’s chosen will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap,
and will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
and will purify the people and refine them like gold and silver.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of love, purify us in the refining fire of your Spirit.
       All: Set us free from all that does not help us serve you.
       Remove from us all that is not love.
       By your Spirit living in us, help us prepare a way for your coming.

       Alleluia! Come, O Jesus, come!

2. [Philippians 1.6, 9-11]
Reading: I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
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CANDLE SONG The Promises of God (2 Peter 1.19)

RESPONSE
Leader: Holy One, light of our peace, this Advent candle shines to prepare your way.
       All: Prepare a way to come to us; redeem us in our darkness.
Prepare your way around us, that the crooked be made straight.
       Prepare your way within us, that our rough places be made smooth.
       God of grace and love, may all flesh see your salvation. Alleluia!


3.
READING: [Luke 1.78-79]
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of mercy, your light dawns upon us.
       All: We open our hearts in joy.
Your grace gives light in our darkness.
       We rise from the shadow of death.
You lead us into a new day.
      Guide us into the way of peace.


4.
Leader: God of promise, God of Mystery,
you have sent a messenger to awaken us.
      All: May the promise of your dawn awaken our hearts and minds.
      May the light of your promise guide our steps and lead us toward you.
      May the joy of your coming sustain us and uplift us.
God of Love, God of Presence,
you have given us a message for the world.
      May the light of your coming shine within us.
      May your Spirit, alive in us, make us signs of your coming.
      O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and dawn within and among us now.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
As we prepare our homes for the holidays let us also prepare our hearts. Let every decoration, card and cookie be an act of readiness for your coming. God of love, help us prepare a room for Christ to be born in us this holy season. Speak the Word to us that will make room in our hearts for love. Amen.

2.
God of love, your prophet cries to prepare a way for you. In the wilderness of our hearts, in the rough places of our society, prepare your way with your life-changing Word. Speak to us, and make the crooked straight, for the sake of your mercy. Amen.

3.
God of life, the prophet cries that a way be made for the coming of the Holy One. Make a way into our hearts. Speak to us and re-create us. We throw open the windows of our souls, that we may hear you, that the light of your dawning may flood our hearts. O come, thou Dayspring, enlighten us, who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

4.
Holy One, you send your prophets among us to speak to us. You send messengers to awaken us, to alert us, to attract us to your light. In Scripture now you speak to us, and call us to new lives. Help us to listen and hear, to receive and be transformed. This is the news we have been waiting for. Speak to us; we want to hear. Amen.

5.
Stir up our hearts, O God, and prepare us for your coming. May the mountains and valleys of our hearts be leveled out, the rough places be made smooth by the healing power of your Word in us. Speak your Word, and we shall be healed. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
       And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
       Gracious God,
       we confess the darkness and cold in our lives.
       We have not lived at peace with you, with our neighbors,
       or even with our own souls.
       Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
       and grant us your peace.
       Be born in us again,
       that by your grace we may live in your light.
       O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.



Reading


CANTICLE (Luke 1. 68-79)

Sung Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us as God’s own people, and redeemed us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.
So God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of those who hate us.
       Thus God has shown the mercy
        that God promised to our ancestors.
God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
the promise God made to Abraham:
        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.
              
Response

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
Response

Listening Prayer

(Suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, confession, or invitation to prayer)

God, we are in exile
from peace, from justice,
from our hope, from our true selves.
Prepare a way for our return.
Bring to completion what you have begun in us.
Prepare your way into us;
enter our hearts, and refine them,
that our love may overflow.
Guide our feet into the way of peace.

Eucharistic Prayer

Note: Even though it’s Advent people are eager to jump ahead and sing Christmas Carols. I’ve addressed this with Advent songs to familiar carol tunes: Advent Table Songs (invitation to communion) four whole Eucharistic Prayers and 24 sets of Eucharistic Responses (Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen).

1.
Beloved, God is with you.
       And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Faithful One, our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you, God, for in the beginning in the darkness and void,
you brought forth light. You prepared Creation for us.
      With the light of love, in the image of love, you created us.
In the darkness and chaos of our brokenness you have sent us a savior
who has set us free from all that diminishes life.
      You judge the forces of oppression and set all your beloved free.
      You level the ridges and fill in the canyons,
      and make a way smooth for your people.
You prepare for us a way toward justice,
and walk with us on that path, and guide our feet in the way of peace.
      We long for such peace in our lives.
      So at your invitation we come to this table you have prepared for us
      to feast in celebration of our freedom, and to sing your praise:
                  [Sanctus]

Blessed is the one who comes in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, who embodied your love.
      He made room for the poor and outcast,
      and held a sacred space for those who were broken.
He died and rose again,
and promised to prepare a place for us.       
      In his love he showed us how to live, and prepared a way for us to follow.               [The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
      Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
      we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
      as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
      as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
               [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
      that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
In this meal prepare in us a place for your love,
that we may go before you, proclaiming forgiveness,
and bearing your light to those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death.      
       In this meal, may your mercy dawn upon us,
      and lead us in the way of peace.
                         [Amen]

                         _______________

2.
May God be with you.
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to the Beloved.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you, God, for you create us in the image of your love.
      You make Covenant with us to be our God,
      and to set us free from oppression.
You guide us in creating a new realm of justice and mercy.
      You give us Jesus: to proclaim our forgiveness,
      to change our hearts, to guide our feet in the way of peace,
      to give us your Spirit, to heal your world.
Therefore with all creation we sing your praise.            
                       [Sanctus]

We thank you for the gift of Jesus, your Christ, who came among us in your love.
      He loved and healed, he taught with prophetic power.
He was crucified, but you raised him from the dead.
      He lives among us, refining our hearts,
      that our love may overflow..

         […The Blessing and Covenant…]

With gratitude we remember your mighty acts in Jesus Christ.
      In praise and thanksgiving we offer ourselves
      as a living and holy sacrifice,
      in union with Christ’s gift for us.
We proclaim with joy the mystery at the heart of our faith.
                [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, that we may be the Body of Christ,
      refined by the fire of your grace, overflowing with your love,
      and joining you in smoothing out the rough places in this world.
      By your Spirit in us, prepare the way of justice and peace.
                            [Amen]
                         _______________
3.
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us and redeemed us.
       God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
       that we would be saved from our enemies,
       and from the hand of those who hate us.
Thus God has shown the mercy
that God promised to our ancestors.
       God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
       the promise God made to Abraham.
        Therefore with one voice we sing God’s praise.
                       [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in God’s name,
and blessed is Jesus, who enfleshed God’s Covenant with us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.

        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.


                     [The Blessing sand Covenant]

Remembering your mighty acts in Jesus,
we offer ourselves as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith:
                     [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts,
that they may be for us the Body of Christ.
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may be the Body of Christ for the world.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
[Amen]
              ————————————

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have visited and redeemed us, according to your promise in Christ. You have saved us from all that would diminish our lives, so that we may serve you without fear, in holiness, in your presence, all our days. Send us into the world now to go before you to prepare your ways. By your tender mercy, may your dawn break upon us and within us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.

2.
Leader: We bless you, God, for you have visited and redeemed your people.
     You have raised up a savior for us,
     and saved us from all that diminishes life,
     so that we may serve you in holiness without fear.

And you, children, will be called the prophets of the Most High;
for you will go before our God
to prepare the ways of the Promised One,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
     By the tender mercy of our God,
     the dawn from on high will break upon us,
     to give light to those who sit in darkness
      and in the shadow of death,
      to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click titles to view songs)

All songs with “Advent” tag, especially:

Benedictus (Song of Zechariah)
          [Luke 1.68-79, to the tune of Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us]
Blessed Be Our God
[Luke 1.68-79, original song]
Prepare Your Way in Me [Luke 3.1-6]
The Promises of God
[1 Peter 1.19]